Robeson Collectables and Rarities is a picture book of over 600 color photographs, mostly of folding pocket knives but also including razors, sheath knives, butcher knives, kitchen and table cutlery, sharpeners, boxes, displays, advertising, household odds and ends, and company documents (all with detailed captions). The photos and book tell the story of Robeson Cutlery and Rochester Stamping companies from their beginnings in about 1880 to the present day. Robeson Cutlery was located in Perry and Rochester, NY and Rochester Stamping in Rochester. Millard Fillmore Robeson, named after the 13th President, was founder of the firms and was responsible for many innovations in and growth of the cutlery and housewares' industries in Western and Central New York during the latter half of the 1800's and early 1900's Industrial Revolution. How the firms adapted to the changing economic conditions and turmoil of the roaring 20's, Great Depression and two world wars; Robeson's eventual demise to foreign imports in the 1960's; and the revitalization of the cutlery industry in recent years are also talked about in the book. All the items displayed in the book are dated, chronologically ordered, and linked to the history and events of the times.
Tom Kalcevic was born and raised in Beaver Falls, PA. Like many boys and young men, he was always interested in pocket knives. However, he did not start seriously collecting knives until the early 1990's, when he acquired the Remington Bullet and Winchester Cartridge Series knife reproductions.
As Tom became a more sophisticated collector, he began searching for antique knives, starting with those made before 1886 by the Beaver Falls Cutlery Co. But, because of the scarcity of these knives he had little success.
While searching through numerous flea markets and antique shops in Western New York State, where Tom now lives, he would quite often find knives made by The Robeson Cutlery Company. Since these knives were manufactured locally, Tom started a collection of Robesons. Before long Tom became interested in the history of the company. Many years were spent researching the records of Robeson, talking to other pocket knife collectors, building a respectable collection and dating knives. Tom then put to use career writing skills to publish his findings. In 2000, The Story of The Robeson Cutlery Co., as Told from Their Knives, Cutlery Products and Local History was self-published and sold. This first book was no longer printed and available after 2009.
From 2000 to 2012, Tom's Robeson collection grew substantially to also include other Robeson collectables, including items made by Rochester Stamping Co., a sister firm to Robeson, Ontario Knife Co., and Queen Cutlery Co. Rochester Stamping manufactured metal staple ware and small kitchen appliances; Ontario, kitchen, table, and commercial cutlery; and Queen, Robeson pocket knife reproductions. In addition, Tom accumulated a number of Robeson store displays, advertising pieces, and company documents. Collectability interest in Robeson items also grew nationally at the same time and there were new requests for Tom's original book. In lieu of reprinting the first book, Tom published the follow-up book, Robeson Collectables and Rarities, in 2012 that added many, newly found and rare Robesons and expanded on the early history of the company and their relationships to the rest of the cutlery industry.